Spurs Player Predictions 2014/15 Part One – The Defence

How’s 2014/15 looking for Tottenham’s boys at the back? Come with me now as we cast our eye over the old hands and new recruits hoping to keep those sheets nice and clean this season.

Hugo Lloris – The sweeper keeper will patiently play out the season with one eye on his future career at one of Europe’s elite clubs. Lloris, having signed a new contract, knows that Levy will probably sell him next summer for beaucoup d’euros, with the Netherlands’ World Cup superhero (1 minute played) Michel Vorm waiting in the wings. Likely to build on an impressive 13/14, especially as he’ll be strutting his stuff squarely in the shop window.

Michel Vorm – The 30-year-old Dutchman will have his work cut out to displace the hugely impressive Lloris, but despite his appearances looking likely to be in cup competition, his addition provides good competition at goalkeeper and judging by his appearances for Swansea, Vorm will fancy his chances of impressing. It may be that 2015/16 will be his time to shine.

Brad Friedel – The amiable American will be too busy being a nice bloke and focussing on his ambassadorial role to play too much of a part in first team activities, but at 43, he deserves a bit of relaxation and his performances since signing for Spurs have certainly warranted a gentle wind-down period. Cameo appearances in the cups are likely to be Friedel’s only outings this season.

Danny Rose – The incompetent left-back will be positively delirious having signed a new bench-warming contract recently, much to the amazement of the footballing fan. His endearingly naïve positivity in thinking he will challenge Ben Davies for a place might keep him warm as he develops bed sores from his soon to be entirely sedentary lifestyle. If he suddenly becomes a good and reliable player, he might challenge, but it seems unlikely.

Ben Davies – As long as he stays fit, the Welshman should be a shoe-in for the left-back spot this season. When your main competition is Danny Rose, you have to feel fairly confident that you’ll get the nod. Comparisons with Gareth Bale are pretty wide of the mark, but apparently Harry Redknapp is certain Davies will eventually revert to left back, which he kind of has, so… A good opportunity to prove himself on a bigger stage, Davies looks likely to impress if he settles well.

Younes Kaboul – The apparently heavily made-up Frenchman looks set to leave for the racist’s playground that is Lazio, so no longer will we see his incredible ability to look calm and in control for ages before melting down in a tragicomic disaster. Still, remember the 4-4 against Villa. If he does stay, he would be a decent squad player to have but as a first choice, he is perhaps too laissez-faire for his own good.

Michael Dawson – For all his hard work and combative attitude, it’s always been a bit of a disappointment that Dawson is Tottenham’s club captain. He’s just never seemed good enough to wear the armband. Decent? Yes. Honest? Largely. Fighter? Definitely. Good enough? No, not really, no. He may be on his way, in which case he’d leave with everyone’s best wishes, but if he remains he may have a tough fight for his place in the team. Would be ideal to join Steve Bruce’s Spurs revolution at, er, Hull.

Jan Vertonghen – Despite apparent interest from ‘all above board transfer practices’ Barcelona, the talented Belgian may well sign a new contract at Spurs, which at least guarantees some quality at centre back for 2014/15. Not infallible but a classy player who adds real quality, Vertonghen should take the captain’s armband from Michael ‘Michael Dawson’ Dawson and will be the lynchpin of the defence.

Kyle Walker – At least he’s fast. After blitzing his way into the team during 2011/12, the better of the two Kyles had a shaky season last year. Walker’s defensive weaknesses all too often left him relying on his lightning pace to get himself out of trouble. This season Walker will reclaim the right back spot as his own and could well put in a decent shout for an England place.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto – The eccentric, enigmatic Cameroonian finds himself fourth in line for a left back spot and will almost certainly not feature in Pochettino’s plans for this season, particularly after head-butting his own team-mate during Cameroon’s disastrous World Cup campaign – how to make a good impression. Bizarre to think he’s been at Spurs since 2006, when he was up against Lee Young-pyo for his place – how things change.

Ezekiel Fryers – Former Manchester United man Fryers is a promising player but appears caught betwixt and between the domains of left back and centre back. It would be shame for him to suffer from Phil Jones syndrome (not with the face – that could never happen to another human) and become something of a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. Might have to make the very best of occasional appearances to stake a serious claim.

Eric Dier – An unknown quantity in the Premier League, the recent signing has spent his career thus far at Sporting Lisbon. Arriving with a reputation as a seriously committed and gifted individual with a fearless and cocksure approach, perhaps Dier will eventually become the man to pick up where Ledley King left off. A lot is expected of the youngster but he will need to be patient this season.

Vlad Chiriches – The Romanian has been heavily linked with a move to Roma after just one year in the Premier League. If he were to stay, he could be the type of player Pochettino favours, but it’s possible Chiriches wants guaranteed first-team football, which he certainly won’t get at White Hart Lane.

Kyle Naughton – Another player linked with a move away, Naughton was once considered the Sheffield United recruit with the greater potential. Unfortunately, whilst Walker has pushed on, Naughton has never really lived up to the billing and it looks likely that his future lies elsewhere, possibly in Wales at Swansea.

That’s it for the Spurs defence, coming next the heavily oversubscribed midfield…

Top 5 Englishmen Abroad

TOP 5 ENGLISHMEN ABROAD

The Premier League is one of the most cosmopolitan in the world, with players coming from as far afield as Oman, Barbados and Honduras. And as we get closer to home, perhaps unsurprisingly, the numbers of football emigrants increases wildly. As of last season there were Germans, Dutch and Frenchmen in the Premier League. Major international stars from football’s biggest and most successful nations are willing to ply their trade on these shores, away from their home countries, yet so few Englishmen are willing to take the plunge and move abroad. So let’s raise a toast to those adventurers, those trailblazers who left the comforts of home for the challenge of, er, playing football in a slightly different climate…

 1. Steve McManaman

The willowy Scouser was one of the first English stars to take advantage of the rampant Bosmania that swept Europe following the seminal ruling allowing players to leave clubs for free at the end of their contracts, as he departed Liverpool at the conclusion of the 97/98 season.

Europe’s biggest club snapped up the old-school dribbler and Macca went on to enjoy both footballing glory and oodles of luvverly cash, all in the rather beautiful surrounds of Madrid.

After winning pretty much everything important in a remarkably successful three-year period, including scoring in the 2000 Champions League Final win over Valencia, McManaman returned to England to wander around the pitch, point at things and do a fat lot of nothing at Manchester City. Nice work if you can get it.

Time Abroad:

Real Madrid 1999-2003

Honours:

La Liga: 2000–01, 2002–03

Supercopa de Espana: 2001, 2003

UEFA Champions League: 2000, 2002

UEFA Super Cup: 2002

Intercontinental Cup: 2002

  1. Kevin Keegan

The man they named ‘Mighty Mouse’ is a studied lesson in how to succeed abroad – pick a moderately successful club, try very, very hard, become a cult hero, lead your team to domestic and (very almost) European success.

Having been a big star at all-conquering Liverpool, the permed poacher surprised many with his departure from Anfield and his arrival in the obscure environs of Hamburg. However, he soon became the town’s favourite Englishman since the Beatles were rocking the Reeperbahn in the early 60s.

A first Bundesliga title for 20 years followed as did a journey to the European Cup final and recognition of the future England manager’s efforts were suitably forthcoming in the form of not one, but two Ballons d’Or – quite the step up from his early days at Scunthorpe.

Time Abroad:

Hamburger SV 1977-1980

Honours:

Bundesliga: 1978-79

European Footballer of the Year (Ballon d’Or): 1978, 1979

3. Chris Waddle

He may be more recognisable these days for being somewhat portly and for airing his forthright views in an incomprehensible Geordie babble as a co-commentator for ESPN and the Beeb, but the once bemulleted winger was once the scourge of full-backs across Europe. Having starred for Tottenham, Waddle took the plunge and made a lucrative move to Marseille on the south coast of France in 1989.

The wing wizard became a hero in France’s second city, where, playing alongside the likes of Cantona, Deschamps and Tigana, he won three consecutive league titles and reached a European Cup final; indeed, such was his impact, he was voted the 2nd best Marseille player of the entire 20th century (finishing only behind his team-mate, Jean-Pierre Papin).

Following a return to England with Sheffield Wednesday in 1992, Waddle was still exhibiting the élan that was his trademark in Marseille as recently as 2002, when he could be found turning out for the slightly less glamorous Worksop Town.

Time Abroad:

Olympique Marseille 1989 – 1992

Honours:

Ligue Un: 1989-90, 1990-91, 1991-92

  1. David Beckham

A breakdown in relations with, and a boot to the face from, Alex Ferguson caused David Beckham’s departure from his beloved Manchester United in 2003, when he left to be the next on the conveyor belt of infamous Galacticos at Real Madrid.

Beckham joined a team boasting considerable talents of Zidane, Ronaldo, Raul, Figo and, er, McManaman, but the England captain and his stellar team-mates had to look on as Valencia and Barcelona won La Liga in 2004 and 2005 & 2006 respectively. Luckily for Becks, in his final season at Real, under the strict management of his future England manager, Fabio Capello, he finally won the title he’d been craving, with Real being crowned champions in a spectacularly close title fight, on a better head-to-head record with arch-rivals, Barcelona.

The Leytonstone lad then left the greatest club in the world to join… the MLS. Whilst he claimed a desire to boost the image of the game in its biggest largely untapped market, many felt Beckham was selling out. He had a mixed time in LA, with two impressive loan stints at AC Milan angering Galaxy fans and frustrating those in England who felt he could still do a job in the Premier League.

The last hurrah for Beckham came at the nouveau riche of PSG, where he ended his career on a high with a final league title. It can’t be denied that Beckham has certainly been the highest-profile expat in English football history, and just think, he’s had stints in some of the true theatres of world football, the Bernabeu, the San Siro, the Parc des Princes and, er, the wonderfully evocative Home Depot Center.

Time Abroad:

Real Madrid 2003 – 2007, LA Galaxy 2007 – 2012, AC Milan 2009 & 2010, PSG 2012-13

Honours:

Real Madrid

La Liga: 2006–07

Supercopa de España: 2003

Los Angeles Galaxy

MLS Western Conference: 2009, 2010, 2011

Paris Saint-Germain

Ligue Un: 2012-13

5. Gary Lineker

Having won the Golden Boot at Mexico ’86, future Match of the Day ‘Mr. Inoffensive’, Gary Lineker was a man in demand, and a, what was at the time, whopping bid of £2.8m took the Englishman from Everton to the sunny climes of Barcelona that summer.

Terry ‘El Tel’ Venables was the man in charge at the Camp Nou, and the crafty Londoner brought in England’s first-choice striker to partner the recently acquired Mark Hughes.While the Welshman struggled in Spain, Lineker took to the bright lights of Barca immediately, picking up the language, immersing himself in the lifestyle and, perhaps more importantly, banging in 21 goals in 41 games, including a hat-trick against Real Madrid. Lineker went on to win the Copa del Rey and the European Cup Winners’ Cup, before returning to England with Spurs.

As his career became increasingly plagued by injuries, Ol’ Big Ears pulled one of the most surprising transfers of all time out of the bag in 1992 by moving to the fantastically named, Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan’s largely unfamiliar J-League. Lineker only managed 23 appearances, but was a huge fan favourite and ended his career in 1994 a particularly adventurous Englishman abroad.

Time Abroad:

Barcelona 1986-1989, Nagoya Grampus Eight 1992-1994

Honours:

Barcelona

Copa del Rey: 1988

European Cup Winners’ Cup: 1989

PFA Player of the Year 2012-13 – POLL

It’s that time of year again, as we drift towards the season’s climax, and Manchester United’s players start to think of where to go this time to celebrate yet another league title, so those oh-so glitzy award ceremonies start to appear on the horizon.

Last year's winner, RVP. Can he succeed again?

Last year’s winner, RVP. Can he succeed again?

The contenders for the PFA player of the season are out and here, if you hadn’t heard, is the line-up:

Gareth Bale – Tottenham Hotspur

Fantastic season for the Welsh winger – 23 goals in 39 appearences and he’s not even a proper forward! Tottenham’s star man and Europe’s most wanted.

 

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

A debut season to remember for the extravagantly talented Belgian, who has managed to fit into the English game very quickly. 13 goals and 18 assists prove his worth on this list.

 

Juan Mata – Chelsea

The Spanish maestro has excelled in his second year at Stamford Bridge. The dynamic midfielder has provided18 goals and an extraordinary 27 assists to Chelsea this year, an invaluable contribution in a turbulent year for the Blues.

 

Robin van Persie – Manchester United

Machine. RVP has proven his move from Arsenal to United was the right one by helping his new club storm the Premier League; in the process the Dutch master has bagged 28 goals.

Michael Carrick – Manchester United

The quiet Geordie, much-maligned for so long has been the constant at the heart of the United midfield this season, keeping things ticking over and supplying plenty of quality passing. is it his year?

 

Luis Suarez – Liverpool

The Uruguayan cannot help but grab the headlines, for good or bad, but despite his latest offence his 30 goal return this season in a struggling Liverpool side is undeniably brilliant.

 

Whilst all of those on this prestigious list have certainly had good seasons (some more carnivorous than others), who deserves to be recognised by his peers as the single outstanding player?

Now, we know it’s up to the players themselves to pick, but what do you, the fans think? Well, now’s your chance to pin your colours to the mast, pin the tail on the donkey and pin Andre the Giant for the 3 count. Vote below on who you think should win.

(N.B. all nominees are fully deserving of their place in this poll, 100%. Definitely. Fact.)

online poll by Opinion Stage